Tomatoes, tomatoes, everywhere! Ripe and ready, the robust, round, globes of goodness are now in full array at area farmers’ markets. The splendid summer heat has spurred the Big Girls and Boys, Beefsteaks, Jet Stars, Yellow Pears, Sweet 100’s, and heirloom varieties such as Oxheart, Cherokee Purple and Brandywine to a fantastic state of rich, sweet succulence.
There is perhaps no more glorious indication of summer, than gardens filled with tons of tomatoes, globular goodies packed with pure, natural flavor! As the season progresses and the tomato plants grow heavy with swollen, scarlet fruit, the harvest practically tumbles off the vine.
Summer fresh tomatoes are incredibly delicious. Utterly simple and beautiful tomato dishes send a conscious cook straight into culinary ecstasy. Even the most modest of preparations are perfectly pleasurable, such as thickly sliced red, yellow, orange and green tomatoes arranged on a big platter, drizzled with a bit of extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar and dusted with plenty of slivered basil. Take a bite and savor what sunshine tastes like.
Chopped and mixed with minced garlic, fresh oregano leaves and balsamic vinegar, then piled onto slices of garlic-rubbed toasted bread, fresh tomatoes become a sophisticated bruschetta, a perfect prelude to dinner on a sultry summer’s night.
Whether roasted and blended into a silky soup, or stirred into a sensational salsa sparked up with the zesty bite of jalapenos and cilantro, or layered with thick, crunchy bacon, basil mayonnaise and creamy avocado slices in an upscale summer sandwich, tomatoes are the cook’s love child of summer.
Pommes d’amour or “love apples,” as tomatoes are known in France, love the body inside and out.
Tomatoes may have the capability to purify the blood, improve the texture and color of the skin, and protect against infection, as they are a natural antiseptic. Tomatoes also contain nicotinic acid, which may help reduce blood cholesterol. Tomatoes are a powerhouse source of lycopene, considered to be an amazingly potent antioxidant, which may prove capable of staving off the growth of numerous types of cancer.
When purchasing tomatoes, pick ones that are slightly pliable, yet firm and heavy, with bright color. Store your tomatoes, unwashed, on the counter. Refrigerating these treasures will rob them of their spectacular seasonal sweetness.
Prepare your delicious life with the pure pleasure of lush and lovely homegrown tomatoes.
1 day old baguette or any crusty bread, cut into ¼ inch thick slices
extra virgin olive oil
4-6 fresh homegrown tomatoes, chopped
1 large clove garlic
1 large clove garlic, minced
¼ cup finely minced fresh oregano
½ cup slivered basil leaves
extra-virgin olive oil
freshly ground black pepper
Coat a frying pan with enough olive oil to fully cover the bottom. Heat over medium low heat until slightly smoking. Place bread slices in pan. Cook, turning until both sides are golden brown. Remove from pan and when cool, rub each piece with garlic clove.
In a bowl, mix together chopped tomatoes, oregano, basil, a drizzle of olive oil and balsamic vinegar and a grinding of black pepper and sprinkle of sea salt. Taste and adjust seasoning and if necessary, add more oil and vinegar.
Top bread with tomato mixture and serve right away. You could also top bread slices with a smear of goat cheese, cream cheese or slices of fresh mozzarella before topping with tomatoes.
Robin Glowa, HHC, AADP, “The Conscious Cook”, is a passionate food and wellness professional who earned her certification in holistic health counseling from the Institute for Integrative Nutrition and Columbia University Teacher’s College. She earned her cooking experience in the kitchen! Robin specializes in teaching healthy cooking classes to children and adults utilizing, fresh, natural ingredients and simple, delicious recipes. She conducts cooking demonstrations for many local organizations and is available for cooking parties and private instruction as well. For more information go to www.theconsciouscook.net. Robin’s blog is confessionsofaconsciouscook.blogspot.com.